Archive for July, 2015

July 3, 2015

Water Extraction Outstripping Water Recharging

Fredrick Mugira
July 03, 2015

Every day, Evelyn Nimusiima’s family uses at least three 20-liter jerry cans of water for domestic purposes. Yet, the last time they planted a tree in their village of Rwenshanku, Bubaare parish in Uganda’s southwestern district of Mbarara was four years ago. And due to severe land shortage, they have extended their crop garden into a nearby wetland.

For a single jerry can of water that Evelyn draws from the shallow well, she does not know what it takes and how long it takes that same volume of water to be regenerated into her well.

“We virtually never think about such things. All we want as a family is water,” says Evelyn, as she draws water from the shallow well, using a yellow plastic jerry can.

Evelyn Nimusiima and her sister fetch water from a well in Rwenshanku, Bubaare parish in Uganda’s southwestern district of Mbarara. Water availability and sustainability is dependent on the way catchment areas are managed and subsequently how surface water is recharging deeper into the soil so that it can be retained by the aquifers. And yet, most water users in developing countries seem not to know this. Photo by Tushabe Andrew

Evelyn Nimusiima and her sister fetch water from a well in Rwenshanku, Bubaare parish in Uganda’s southwestern district of Mbarara. Water availability and sustainability is dependent on the way catchment areas are managed and subsequently how surface water is recharging deeper into the soil so that it can be retained by the aquifers. And yet, most water users in developing countries seem not to know this. Photo by Tushabe Andrew

Evelyn is one of the millions of people, companies, business entities, and organisations worldwide that abstracted water from water bodies such as wells, rivers, lakes and underground sources for various purposes but do not complement in recharging them. And yet, water availability and sustainability is dependent on the way catchment areas are managed and subsequently how surface water is recharging deeper into the soil so that it can be retained by the aquifers.

Jeconeous Musingwire, an environmental scientist with Uganda’s environment watchdog-NEMA thinks this is partly the reason why such communities in Uganda — and the rest of developing countries are facing water shortage problems.

Some 663 million people worldwide are living without an improved source of water according to the just released joint monitoring programme by UNICEF and WHO.

“Granaries of water such as wetland resources, tropical forests must be conserved,” notes Jeconeous, stressing that this is the best way to attain, “water sustainability.”

Contrary to this, wetland resources worldwide are being subjected to massive destruction.

In sub-Saharan Africa, many wetland resources have been converted into crop gardens. In southern Asia, they have been turned into plantations of oil palm.

In a country like Uganda, over cultivation, over abstraction of water for domestic use, overgrazing and industrialization have seen wetland resources such as — marshes, swamps, peat bogs, river deltas, tundra, mangroves and river flood plains — perish. Such resources used to cover over 13 percent of the total area of the country but have now been reduced to just 11 percent.

Recently Uganda’s government vowed to cancel land titles issued in wetlands but this is yet to be implemented.

A few people, mostly women and children in Uganda — and in several developing countries who are the majority that fetch water- know how important it is to recharge the water bodies that give them water.

Professor Ephraim Kamuntu, Ugandan’s minister for water and environment, says this is a mindset problem.

“The problem is that people think water comes as rain, and rain comes from heaven and it is God given,” notes Prof. Ephraim. “Water users must create a balance between demand and supply. The needs should not overstretch the supply.”

Prof. Kamuntu says the balance can be achieved through environmental conservation such as — conservation of wetlands resources, planting more trees, protecting water sources and extracting underground water carefully.

Ian Atamba, the Director Integrated Actions Network, an NGO that works closely with farmers to conserve environment maintains that there is still room for change.

“People perish because of ignorance. It is important to sensitize water users on such issues and this is what our network is doing,” notes Ian. “With time water users will get to know that they cannot only extract water from environment. They need to contribute towards its realization.”

July 3, 2015

Shocking Figures Reveal Nearly 2.4 Billion People in the World Have No Basic Toilets

Achwamu Brenda Ashey and
Twesiime Catherine
July 02, 2015

Some 663 million people are still without an ‘improved’ source of water and some 2.36 billion do not have a basic, hygienic toilet, a joint monitoring programme by UNICEF and WHO has revealed.

The regular update is the last report on progress and access to drinking water and sanitation ahead of the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals, a set of lofty UN ambitions which set out in 2000 to halve the proportion of people without access to water and sanitation, among other goals.

A makeshift bathroom. Few people in developing countries are familiar with the dangerous health risks their families face due to poor sanitary facilities.

A makeshift bathroom. Few people in developing countries are familiar with the dangerous health risks their families face due to poor sanitary facilities.

As these goals expire this year, the goal on water has been met overall, but with wide gaps remaining, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The goal on sanitation, however, has failed dramatically. At present rates of progress it would take 300 years for everyone in Sub-Saharan Africa to get access to a sanitary toilet.

At the last update, in 2014, 748 million people were found to not have access to an ‘improved’ water source and 2.5 billion were without basic, sanitary toilets.

For an interactive, embeddable map with projections to 2030, please see www.washwatch.org. ‘Improved’ water sources are protected from contamination and usually safe to drink.

UNICEF and the WHO have also warned that as many as 1.8 billion people are still at risk of going without access to water that is both safe and affordable.

Nearly 700 million people in Africa alone don’t have a basic toilet, and over 200 million defecate in the open. Nigeria – Africa’s most populous nation and its largest economy – has actually shown worsening trends, with decreasing access and increasing open defecation.

Nigeria has recorded practically no progress in the area of sanitation. In 1990, 38% of the population had access to improved sanitation. In 2015, this figure is now a woeful 29% (up just a meagre 1% from 2014’s figure of 28%). The proportion of Nigeria’s population that has gained access to improved sanitation since 1990 is only 9%.

And for water access, this year, 69% of Nigeria’s population now have access to safe water – an improvement of 5% from last year and an increase of 30% since the MDG goals were set in 1990. The proportion of the population that has gained access to safe water since 1990 is 48%.

Dr. Michael Ojo, WaterAid Nigeria Country Representative

Dr. Michael Ojo, WaterAid Nigeria Country Representative

WaterAid Nigeria Country Representative, Dr. Michael Ojo says, “It is true that a lot has changed in the 25 years since the World Health Organization/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme began to document the world’s access to drinking water and sanitation; the picture for Nigeria however has for the most part remained quite grim.”

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